Chapter 46: Abdication

“One hundred and two: defeat is inevitable, yet it can be just as useful as a victory. Fate assures you at least one loss, so make sure it’s the right kind.”
– “Two Hundred Heroic Axioms”, author unknown

We’d won, so naturally in the heartbeat that followed it all went to shit. Masego stumbled down his throne with gasping breaths, fingers blindly clawing at the rune-carve stone. He’d always been tall, but never before had I seen him so thin – it made him look spindly, like some long-legged insect in ragged black robes. The sorcery that’d been hanging heavy in the air was gone now, like some great gust of wind had blown it out, and I suspected that whatever it was that’d achieved that was the same thing that had Masego’s limbs trembling. Heaving, he began to puke and I had to restrain myself from going to him after taking a unthinking step forward. It’d have to wait just a little longer, graceless as that truth was. Before the rest I needed to be sure that I wasn’t going to be asked to make an ugly choice between two people I dearly loved.

“Pilgrim,” I said. “What ails him, does it threaten his life?”

Even if the man did not know, the Ophanim would.

“Only if not attended to,” the Peregrine said after a moment. “The fever will rise and his body will weaken: it will take weeks if not months of recovery.”

“Then raise Archer, if you would,” I said.

I’d phrased it politely but we both knew it for the order it was. Wordlessly, the Sisters left my shoulders

“We don’t raise the dead, Foundling,” the Saint sharply said.

“Resurrect, then,” I replied, rolling my eyes.

I met Tariq’s stare and slowly he inclined his head in agreement. I wondered if I was right in guessing he’d not immediately brought Indrani back because he’d thought Masego might yet die and that, in the war on the Dead King, the Hierophant would be more useful than the Archer. I set aside the thought, for there was nothing to gain from pursuing it. Even if he’d been thinking that way the colder part of me had to acknowledge that it might not be a bad thing at least one of us had been. I was too close to this, to them, to be able to genuinely do the same. Leaving the Grey Pilgrim to the business of overturning death, I hurried to the still-crawling Hierophant. By the looks of it there hadn’t been much in his stomach, which no doubt made the heaves worse as the body stubbornly tried to spew out something that wasn’t there. His glass-crafted eyes moved wildly beneath the eyecloth, but he did not seem completely blind. I knelt in front of him, swallowing a pained wince, and made sure he saw me before further approaching.

“Masego,” I softly said. “It’s me? Do you recognize me?”

“Catherine,” he croaked. “It’s gone.”

“I know,” I softly agreed. “We all saw you push the Dead King out. We struck at it together.”

I caught his shoulder and, shivering at the weight it put on my bad leg, tipped him back so he was leaning against me instead of half-sprawled over the floor.

“Here we go,” I said. “I’m going to get the vomit off you, Masego, is that all right?”

“Not the Dead King,” he rasped. “It’s all gone, Catherine. My magic.”

I stiffened at the announcement. I wished he’d spoken in a softer tone, so that the heroes – and Kairos, who’d remained dangerously silent through all of this – would not have heard him. As they most definitely just had. I immediately rebuked myself for the thought, for he was in no state to consider such matters. Are you sure, that pointed little question, held on the tip of my tongue for a heartbeat before I buried it. It’d only insult him: he wouldn’t be this devastated if he wasn’t sure.

“It’ll be all right,” I whispered. “We’ll fix it. There’s always a way, Masego. Always.”

A lie, I thought, but one I would have wanted to be told in his place. He’d be able to speak to this more clearly when he’d rested and recovered, and when he did he’d have Akua to help and the knowledge of Sve Noc to look through. If there was a path to be had, we would find it.

“I feel warm,” he said. “Fever. My teeth hurt. I can’t fix it.”

Sickly as he was, Masego was larger and heavier than me – I had to draw on Night to subdue him without hurting him, his sudden violent flailing taking me by surprise. Shit. I’d wanted him awake for the last stretch of this but he was going a bad way. Weaving a long thread of Night as gently as I could, I pressed my thumb against his forehead and let the working gently tug him into slumber. His thrashing subsided until it was little more than twitches and I let out a shaky breath of my own. All right. It looked bad, but once we got back to camp it could be fixed. We had mages and priests and I was owed by the foremost hero on Calernia, a man who had an in with a Choir. He’d come out of this all right, and then we could see about clawing back his magic from our enemy. Breathe in, breathe out. There was no place for weakness in me when the Tyrant and the Saint were looking. I unclasped the Mantle of Woe and bunched it together, sliding it under Masego’s head so he wouldn’t scrape it against the runes. I rose back to my feet, leaning against my staff.

“Touching,” the Tyrant of Helike drawled. “I do not jest, Catherine, it was truly-”

“There’s a general that’s been with you from the start,” I said, meeting his gaze. “Basilia, is it?”

“Are you threatening me?” Kairos asked, sounding amused.

“Finish that sentence,” I said, “and you’ll find out.”

Whatever might have followed that was to remain unspoken, for with a gasp Indrani returned to the land of the living. I limped past the Tyrant, making my way to her side. Tariq had put her on her back before digging into his aspect, and now miraculously enough there was no trace of the hole that’d been blow through her head save for dried blood over her face. The Saint was gazing down at her with a sneer when I arrived, while the Pilgrim gently asked her to cease moving so the Light could heal the last of her scrapes. Indrani’s hazelnut eyes swam into focus when I arrived, first staying on me and then moving to the other two heroes by her ‘bedside’. Leaning to the side, Archer spat out a little mucus and wiped her lips.

“Cat’s always been fine and I can be sold on the Saint – gotta love a girl who knows her way around a sword,” she drawled. “But a priest too? Gods, there can’t have been that much liquor in the city.”

In a moment of quicksilver surprise, I saw the Saint of Swords looking like someone had just personally pissed in her morning porridge and the Grey Pilgrim looked utterly, wickedly delighted before I had to cover my mouth with a hand lest I burst out laughing.

“I wasn’t always a priest, I’ll gave you know,” the Peregrine sanguinely replied. “As a young man I once even attempted to become one of the Hidden Poets.”

“They of the seventy-eight methods of carnal love?” Indrani asked, sounding somewhat intrigued.

“Indeed,” he agreed. “Alas, my kamil declamations were judged unworthy and so I took an interest in healing instead.”

“You look rather spry, for a dead woman,” I said.

I looked at her searchingly even as I spoke, looking for a flinch or darkening of mien that would have given away a shadow cast on her soul. Resurrection was too great a boon to come without a cost, in my eyes, though that did not mean that price would be paid immediately. Yet I found nothing and so offered up my hand to cover my surprise. Indrani took it, and with a grunt I dragged her up.

“Well,” Archer said, “I did get to take a nap. I’m all refreshed now.”

I almost winced at that. I’d not seen her die, but the sight of her head missing a chunk was going to haunt my nights for a few months to come. Indrani’s eyes moved to the sleeping form of Masego, lingering on the rise and fall of his chest. The twitched were already rarer, but still I caught his leg in a spasm as he turned and a moan escaped his lips.

“What happened?” she quietly asked. “I know how I…”

She hesitated there, and I found an almost troubled look on her face when I looked. Not entirely without marks, then. I reached for her shoulder, but she shook it away.

“We knew it was a possibility,” she said, tone grown firm. “But it should have shaken him out of the Dead King’s hold. What went wrong?”

“Your little friend pushed out the Hidden Horror,” the Saint of Swords said, approaching. “Long enough for us to help strike him down.”

“When the shard of the Dead King ruling over the Hierophant was destroyed, it took his magic with it,” the Rogue Sorcerer said.

Both the Pilgrim and the Saint shot a look at him, and he dipped his head as if to confirm something.

“Roland?” I asked.

“It is part of my Choosing to know when there is sorcery to confiscate,” the hero told me, face grim. “There is none left in the Hierophant.”

“Shit,” Indrani murmured. “That’s going to leave scars even if we fix it.”

“Which we will,” I meaningfully said.

Indrani questioningly glanced at my neck, more specifically the height where my cloak’s collar would usually be.

“If anyone can,” I agreed. “Otherwise, well, praise the Night and we’ll figure something out.”

“Crows might know something, yeah,” Archer said. “They’re basically magpies only with, you know…”

She gestured vaguely, trying to get across the concept of godhood. Something that had eluded the finest mages and theologians of the continent for millennia.

“That’s heresy,” I piously said.

Komena cawed in the distance, unamused by the way I hadn’t entirely disagreed in my own thoughts.

“See, you’ve angered the gods,” I said.

After the hellish, riotous night we’d gone through – and which had yet to end – trading barbs with Indrani like this was like a balm for the soul. The rest of the band had been looking on with various degrees of amusement and impatience, which was fair. Most of us were allies of convenience, if even that. I cleared my throat, Archer falling in at my left like it was the most natural thing in the world. I found strength in that where earlier I’d begun to find mostly exhaustion.

“The five of us have made it to the journey’s end,” I said. “And so now we bring about an ending.”

“This where you reveal the last crown?” Laurence de Montfort bluntly asked. “Overdue.”

“I’ll confess to some curiosity as well,” the Rogue Sorcerer said.

There was a moment of silence, a courtesy I was offering to the man in question – the opportunity to speak himself, if he preferred it that way.

“It will be mine,” the Grey Pilgrim said. “Though the Dominion of Levant has no kings, I was born to the bloodline that has ruled it since its founding.”

The Saint spat to the side.

“Funny how it’s always us who ends up paying the butcher’s bill tonight,” she said. “Almost like it was planned that way.”

I didn’t answer that. It was true, at least in part, though I regretted nothing. For all that I’d scraped them raw, I’d made them fair offers and would deliver on all I had promised. As we’d begun the year deathly foes, I considered that far more generous treatment than was owed by the ways they’d dealt with me in the past.

“There can be no us and them, Laurence, if we are to survive the decade,” the Pilgrim quietly said. “Not against the kind of foe we face. And it is no great loss, I assure you: I know better than most how ill-suited I would be to rule.”

“Some would say merely knowing that would make you better ruler than most,” the Saint replied.

I bit down on my tongue, because now was not the moment to express my strong opinion on the matter. Humility wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in a king, but it was hardly a qualification. Ambition wasn’t a flaw, it was the character trait behind most – no, now was not the time for that. Gods, was this my shatranj speech? Of all the damned habits I could have picked up.

“Oh, please do have him elected Holy Seljun,” the Tyrant grinned. “That would be delightful. We’ll have to have his… great-great-nephew? Close enough, I think. We’ll need to have the current Seljun assassinated first, that is my implication, but worry not. Mercantis offers very fair prices on poison these days.”

“Must you, Tyrant?” the Rogue Sorcerer asked.

“It’s simply getting a little too chummy in here for my tastes, if you’ll forgive my language,” Kairos cheerily replied. “As if most people in this room had not tried to kill each other at some point.”

“Well,” Indrani mused. “He’s not wrong. Why is he alive, anyway?”

“He made a deal with the Wandering Bard,” I said.

“That is the opposite of a reason to keep him alive,” Archer pointed out.

“A courtesy was extended,” I said, tone informing her the line of questioning was at an end.

“Hear that, Saint?” Indrani grinned. “We’re being courteous to you. So maybe you try not being such a-”

Archer,” I hissed.

“-card,” Indrani adjusted at the last moment, “I was definitely going to say card.”

Kairos gasped, as if deeply shocked by her foul language.

“It will not be long before dawn rises,” the Grey Pilgrim said, “even given the nature of this place. We must attend to the tasks ahead.”

“Namely, to slay a god,” the Rogue Sorcerer said.

That bought an aftermath of silence for a few beats. If he’d not been Proceran I would have assumed a pun, but given his origins my assumptions erred on the side of clemency.

“Unless you’re holding out on us, Foundling, the odds are not skewed in our favour,” the Saint of Swords bluntly said. “It would have been one thing with the warlock, but he’s done. The five of us and your cheap Ranger imitation won’t cut it.”

“There were more than simply the Huntsman outside,” Roland said. “The entire Wild Hunt was standing vigil around the room. We will be outnumbered.”

“We won’t be, my dear friend,” the Tyrant of Helike said, “for the same reason that the Hierophant is nowhere to be found.”

Three pairs of eyes sought Masego, and when they found nothing at all turned to me instead. Alas, without my cloak I’d been robbed of my pipe and wakeleaf. Hadn’t thought that through properly, I mused.

“Did you think she wanted this done before dawn for the ambience?” Kairos Theodosian grinned. “Oh no. She wants the war ended before daylight scatters her little army of darkness.”

“I’ve dealt with fae royalty before,” I mildly said. “A story is the one blade they can’t parry and that we earned, as our band of five. But you still need to sink in the knife and that means power. I’ve provided it.”

Of which there would be no lack, before the coming of dawn. The Sisters were circling in the sky above, patient and slow, but the Mighty I’d sent for would have long ago made their way through the broken grounds of Liesse and reached this deeper palace. If the coming Court and my own side came to blow, as I expected they would, I would have warriors awaiting more than the match of a Wild Hunt reforged.

“You think our Larat’s going to be a rougher ride than High Noon?” Indrani asked.

“If we let him get a grip, that seems likely,” I grimly replied.

None of the others here had been part of our fight against Princess Sulia, the general of Summer’s hosts and herald of its sun, so while the idle reference by Archer was not gibberish to them neither was it really understood. The Saint and the Pilgrim had faced villains and monsters I’d never known the likes of, but the fae were… different. Less and more dangerous at the same time. And Larat, once the Prince of Nightfall, had been all sorts of dangerous even before his service under my oaths had taken him across the breadth of Calernia. Fae couldn’t learn, not the way mortals did. Their natures were static in the way our weren’t. Yet I knew from experience that they could learn to… interpret themselves through different eyes, shaping themselves through oaths and stories. The Wild Hunt, while bound to me, had seen more of Creation than the rest of their likely had in centuries. I fully expected any Court they had a hand in making to be dangerous in ways that the ancestral forces of nature that were Summer and Winter could scarcely have imagined. I breathed out, rolled my shoulders to limber them.

“Ready yourselves,” I warned. “We begin.”

I seized my staff and struck down at the ground, a thin wave of Night rippling out, and from that darkness I leaned down to snatch out the bag that held seven crowns. Without even needing to look, I knew that the fae had come. As I strode towards the throne on which Masego had sat, when in the throes of the Dead King’s enchantments, from the corner of my eye I saw silhouettes standing atop the walls. In ripping out the ceiling, I had made of this throne room an arena of sorts – and in a silent circle above the Wild Hunt stood, eyes watchful. I emptied the sack at the bottom of the throne. An old crowb of ivory and gold, set with a great carved topaz. A straight-edged cavalry sword, wrapped in a cloak. An ornate longsword, specked with its dead owner’s blood. A silver tiara, bitter surrender. A bloody knife, regicide absolved. A bare blade within a banner, and last of all two silver wings ripped in spite. A harvest of royalty that cast a shadow over a third of the greatest realm under Calernian sun. No small harvest, this. The Grey Pilgrim padded forward as I threw aside the empty sack, and with measured ceremony came to stand before the pile. The old man brusquely snapped his own staff over his knee, the old thing breaking like it’d been fragile as driftwood, and tossed it onto the pile. He whispered two words under his breath, though I caught only one: izil.

With that last addition the seven crowns and one I’d promised were offered, and so the creature I’d promised them to arrived. Larat drifted in from right, steps silent and smooth, long black hair trailing behind him. He near brushed against me as he passed, though it was not jostling – it was an acknowledgement of his presence. We were, I thought, long past the petty games of posturing other times might have brought.

“I had thought, my queen, that you might destroy me before the debt was paid,” the fae amusedly said. “Or make of me something… tamed and hollowed.”

His sole eye flicked a glance upwards, where two crows still circled.

“I am a woman of my word,” I replied. “However terrible that word might be.”

“So you are,” Larat said, dipping his head. “Let all witness it, and Creation remember it.”

He ran an almost loving finger against the stone of the throne before him, having fluidly stepped around the crowns that were his due. As I watched every last thing tossed onto the pile turned to ash, until naught was left but that, and under Larat’s watchful gaze those ashes rose up. They spun once, twice, thrice, and with every spin they gathered more tightly into something being forged. A crown, I thought. It was made of grey chalcedony and mother-of-pearl, one twisted like threads and the other hanging in star-like spots, but something more eldritch leant both darkness and radiant lights to the shaping artefact. It thickened, until the last touch was added – a distant radiant star, shining on the brow, stolen and set for the pleasure of the newborn Court.

“And so is born the Court of Twilight,” the fae said. “Under the pilgrim’s star, willingly given, and winding through the many realms of mortals wicked and righteous both. We tread the span of dusk and dawn, unhindered and unseen, watchers of boundaries and makers of secret ways. Let none think themselves our masters, for we are the children of the debt repaid and the tricks woven in death.”

Pale fingers caught the crown and Larat softly laughed.

“I thank you, Sovereign Under the Night,” he said. “Not for the bargain fulfilled, for that was as ordained, but for what you gave us all freely.”

He’d not put on the crown, I thought. It had not yet begun.

“And what would that be?” I asked.

“We cannot learn as your kind do, Foundling Queen,” Larat smiled. “But we can… mimic. That is our gift. And you have shown us a great many things. You taught us, my queen, the greatest trick of them all.”

Larat, smiling, put on the crown.

“Hear my first decree, one and all, as Twilight’s King,” he laughed.

Larat, smiling, tossed it back down onto the throne.

“My crown I abdicate, and let the worthiest of you bear it.”

200 thoughts on “Chapter 46: Abdication

    1. limwanya

      Am curious was this Catherines plan from the beginning to cow Larat into giving up the throne with Sve Noc and her Drow army, at the same time cow the heroes from stopping her from claiming apotheosis again. Because we saw earlier on Catherine having that conversation with
      Larat like she telling him, she is going to kill him after fulfilling his wish, so from the beginning Larat knew he had no choice but give up the throne.

      If that was her plan from the beginning I am impressed

      Liked by 6 people

      1. limwanya

        I mean think about it Sve Noc can kill any Mighty and Catherine because the Night they have in them So the fight is between Catherine and her fellow band mates including the other wild hunt if they are also included in the brawl.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. limwanya

          Same terms as our last bargain,” she said. “Should the other condition fail to happen.”

          So Catherine wanted Grey pilgrim to loose his right to rule, so she bargained for his Crown to be the “one” and he thought she was doing him kindness. Now he can’t claim the Twilight crown because he has relinquished his right rule.

          It’s like she for saw this so she removed the greatest contender. Because let’s face it pilgrim is all about lesser evils so even though he is hero he would prevent any villain from claiming the elderich crown to prevent another lesser God sworn to bellow, so even though he might have lost his hero Name could have fought for it, but now he’s out of the competition.Saint? No impossible she is all about kill those sworn to bellow. Kairos? Who would allow him. The shard is still falling so it needs to be claimed, so that leaves Catherine. (Archer noo)

          SHE PLANNED THIS FROM THE BEGINNING ✌️✌️

          Liked by 7 people

            1. limwanya

              That’s the beauty of it they have no choice, they will disagree but facts point to Catherine being their best choice(that’s me assuming you can’t be a hero while bearing a Fae crown sworn to bellow) so that leaves Catherine and Kairos. That’s a landslide win I Catherines favor

              Liked by 5 people

                1. grognakthedestroyerattorneyatlaw

                  I don’t think it is sworn to below. The twilight court was excactly what needed to happen. Catherine wants a world where Good and Evil live together. Twilight is the middle ground between Light and Night.

                  Liked by 2 people

              1. From the Epigrams: “No matter how hallowed the crown, it fits only one head.” – Proceran saying – Chapter 27: Expedition.

                Also: “To keep a friend, avoid sharing these three: coin, cup and crown.” – Nicaean saying – Chapter 37: Accessory

                Liked by 1 person

      2. “The worthiest of you” = pretty sure that’s the Wild Hunt, about to start killing each other for the crown. Cat’s not going for apotheosis, she established that it’s a bad idea pretty firmly for herself.

        And I don’t think Cat could have counted on him doing exactly this. There would be SOME trick, she knew that, but she could not guess what it would be. Too open-ended, too little info. Larat IS an ancient timeless entity.

        Liked by 11 people

        1. limwanya

          Come on, Catherine had literally been hinting to his face since they last had talk that worse would befall him should he keep the crown, she basically gave her no choice either give it to her or abdicate if he wants to live afterwards

          Liked by 5 people

          1. Hey, aren’t you the guy who was arguing Cat getting “nerfed” at the end of book 4 was a terrible idea and a terrible narrative move?

            Your opinions remain consistent I see :3

            Like

        2. ThatOneGuy

          He knows that they need a lower case G to slay and he knows the real winner is not who wears the crown, but who survives long enough to wear it in the end.

          Better question is who is getting stuck with the death flag?

          If a hero picks it up then that’s a lot of fae and Drow they have to face because it’s obvious that the villain side will not let them keep it.

          If a villain picks it up then that’s a lot of fae and three story charged heroes they have to face with the possibility of the villain left out joining in.

          The crown is not so much a crown, but an alter to the next scrafice… Long debts paid INDEED.

          Though I can’t help but wonder who is going to try to spin a tale that they shouldn’t be murdered when they try and take the crown.

          Liked by 2 people

            1. Cat’s plan is to park the drow on top of Keter … and probably the surface over what was the Everdark.
              Also, quite possibly requiring the other nations (especially Procer) to provide support for the drow doorstopper over Keter/the gate to Serenity.

              Liked by 3 people

                1. Who are they retreating from?
                  I would expect that in the event of the Dead King trying to break free, whatever peace deal is made that parks the Drow over Keter includes contingency clauses that lets them demand reinforcements/Heroes/Named from the rest of Calernia.
                  For that matter, it might establish some kind of ongoing joint forces operation in terms of holding the Creation side of the gate to Serenity, since the drow have issues with dawn and daylight.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. Insanenoodlyguy

                    Its less retreat and more travel, I think. This place becomes close to everybody. If they become the enforcer of the accords, as cat wants, that is a very convenient place to own. Break the rules and know shortly a portal will open some night in your backyard and the twilight fae come to end you.

                    Liked by 1 person

      3. Cowed? No — Larat found an entirely justifiable way to mimic being an absolute dick for the greater good. Of course.

        Not for amusement. At all. Oh, no. Why, simply suggesting that’s sheer culmany.

        A trickster with a new toy like fanged restraint…. is a very dangerous thing.

        Liked by 5 people

      4. I don’t think it was. Her plan as shown to us was “even as a Fae King, Larat will still be based on Night, and Sve Noc can just pull all his Night out”. But as I suggested way back when, it seems Larat has other ideas.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica Day

      More like:

      “Oh I couldn’t possibly you are so much more fit to rule”
      “Oh no, you are my better at.. ”
      “Well I know the two of you are so humble it must be one of you”
      “Well I unfortunately am too old, certainly younger hands should take up the responsibility?”
      “My place is on the battlefield though, not on a throne”

      Liked by 17 people

  1. Oh. Clever Larat. I admit, that I didn’t see that coming.

    And that’s going to be a complication.
    I wonder who/how is the “worthiest” determined. Who it be Larat, the rest of the Twilight Court Fae, the Twilight Crown/mantle itself?

    Laurence, stab Kairos now. With him, your instinct to stab first and question later (if at all) is correct.
    And there’s no way he can be allowed to try to get the Twilight Crown.

    Archer seems to be relatively unaffected, but then she’d be putting up such a front even if she weren’t.

    Masego … Cat will figure something out. Even if she has to take the Twilight Crown to grant you a Title and the power that comes with it, though she’ll probably try to give you Night first, which if you still have the ability to do stuff with/through the Name of Heirophant without magic, might be a step towards godhood for you.

    Liked by 9 people

      1. Kissaten

        Worthiest takes the Crown. If nobody’s worthy, armies down there die, and also maybe it will be story like excalibur. Or something like Mercantis situation: being on sale for who knows how many centuries and still not bought.

        Liked by 5 people

      1. Yes, he should have. In fact, I’m pretty sure that was the main point. Cat brought an army of the Mighty because she knew they could kill him and the new Court. Larat is smart enough to know she’s right. But how will the Mighty kill him when they’re so busy killing each other for the right to be King?

        Liked by 2 people

    1. > I wonder who/how is the “worthiest” determined.

      Well, that’s the joke, Larat’s knife to Cat’s web of plans.

      > Laurence, stab Kairos now. With him, your instinct to stab first and question later (if at all) is correct.

      Really? It wasn’t, last time she stabbed him.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. JJR

    Winning by giving up is turning out to be quite the trick these days. And I did not see this coming at all. Masego should get it I think, to make up for losing his magic. But also, any argument about who should get the crown is basically what Larat wants at this point I think. Let the mortals fight over it and tear their band of five apart.

    I don’t know how they can avoid that and still get the highway they need to get north to stop the armies of the Dead King.

    Liked by 14 people

    1. The way to avoid it is as simple as it is tropey and therefore every single Named present is going to know it: NONE of them going for the crown. It’s a Bad Idea, and Cat has just recently managed to snap out of another such, so they know exactly how bad.

      Well, Kairos will try anyway.

      I admit my first through was about none of them at all, and about the Wild Hunt.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. haihappen

        I am not sure Cat planned this little conundrum to come to pass.
        First and foremost contender for this crown would be Akua, imo, who has the best claim to this throne of her own making.

        Interesting consequence of Larat’s move: Where does he belong now? Is he a “free” fae, as in unbound?

        Liked by 5 people

        1. shveiran

          I don’t think he or the wild hunt are unaligned fey, right now: the Twilight Court was born, and they belong to it.
          Larat abdicating means he relinquishes his role as King of Twilight, not that he is no longer part of it.

          Liked by 8 people

  3. erebus42

    Fuck. Well played Larat, well played indeed.
    Now who will our lovely contenders be I wonder? It’s too early after him losing his magic for this to be a solution to the Masego problem. Kairos will probably make a play for it as in only proper. I guess Black is another possibility; reforging himself as the Twilight King. Obviously that would put a hitch in the deicide plan, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out.

    Liked by 7 people

      1. ______

        He’s not necessarily gone, but yeah, a fae Amadeus ex machina sounds scary. Even the Saint would be better, since Cat can just take advantage of the revised deal with the Pilgrim and regicide her all the same.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. erebus42

        “Terrible idea” is pretty harsh (I personally enjoyed watching Cat be a scary Fae Goddess) but then there aren’t many characters around who I could see wanting to taking up the crown at this point (except obviously Kairos but he’s Kairos so…). I suppose you could be right and it could end up being some random Fae- as anticlimactic as that would be (though that could conceivably be intentionally so).

        Liked by 3 people

      3. SilentWatcher

        Apparently you have read other books then? Cat did a great job with her Fae Crown. She has experience with this and the possible problems and still her right to rule. Who else but Cat?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Morgenstern

          Anyone else. At least as far as Cat’s own wishes go. She might just do it for the greater good, of course. But it would go against everything she ended up with so far as having revelations goes, at the end of just the very last book before this one. She decided she would never ever want to be anything like that again, but wanted to be MORTAL, remember?

          Liked by 3 people

          1. SilentWatcher

            Yes she wanted to be mortal again, but she achieved her goals while wearing her crown and made no terrible mistakes, like making callow a magic fairy winterland.
            it would not conflict with any revelations of Cat, because the court is the court of twilight, joining Light and Night. Good and Evil. It is the goal Cat is working for a long time with her liesse accords.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. Our observations as neutral audience on the outside are hardly relevant to Cat’s decision making process in-universe. SHE thinks it’s a terrible idea; everyone else present either strongly agrees or doesn’t have an opinion (Indrani), and that’s what matters

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Decius

      Even Kairos.

      ESPECIALLY Kairos.

      He will offer to support every one of their claims. Everyone will be counting on his betrayal. He can foil their plans completely merely by not betraying them.

      Liked by 16 people

    1. > Archer back and shit talking is a balm on all our souls.

      Also:
      > In a moment of quicksilver surprise, I saw the Saint of Swords looking like someone had just personally pissed in her morning porridge and the Grey Pilgrim looked utterly, wickedly delighted…

      And Tariq gets to demonstrate that he can handle dirty jokes just fine. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bolimest

    Wow that was quite a twist. I was not expecting that and it made me cackle when I read it. I wonder if any of the Drow will try to make a grab for the crown or if it’ll just put a ton of stress on the parties allegiences (looking at you Kairos).

    Liked by 10 people

      1. ______

        This is the same army that followed Cat when she’d declared herself Losara Queen. They know one way to defend a claim: the worthy take, the worthy rise.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. shveiran

          Yes, except for the fact that the drow have no doubt regarding who is the worthiest among them, right now.

          Cat stands as First Under the Night, bearing the blessing of the Goddesses on her shoulders.
          What drow would go against the Avatar of Komena and Andronike just on the spur of the moment?

          No. This is no longer the Everdark. I think no drow will jump to grab the Crown. And besides, I doubt they understand the significance of the crown to begin with.
          They are not from Calernia, and have no experience with Fae.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Walter

    Very well played and revealed EE / Larat.

    Of the 3 heroes, we have the one who just surrendered their claim, a Sorceror who has no use for a court, and one is old and truly just wishes to cut her problems as a default method over diplomacy.

    Of the 4 villains, we have the prophet for a new divinity, an errant and magicless sorceror, leaving, the 2 official contenders.

    A newly resurrected villain who was saved by act of a hero, or an existing politico who views it all as a game.

    And yet, I wonder about the unofficial contenders – the real names here – the bard? Nope – conflict of interests. Another member of the court? Possibly.

    But if I had to guess, and using Cat’s past actions as a guide, if I was forced to bet, I’d pick… Larat, but as a compromise candidate, who ends up making deals with everyone in exchange for not being killed as a means to and end.

    Of course I’m expecting to be wrong though.

    Liked by 8 people

      1. shveiran

        It is just a hunch, but I don’t think drows or Wild Hunt members are claimant here.
        I may very well be wrong, but the way it’s set… I think the crown is not being thrown into a pit, but offered to the “invading army’s leaders. As in, the Five.

        It is just a feeling, but that i more vicious (which reads “fey”) than just any bloody brawl. Playing off rivalries between a closed group, forcing each player to choose between a series of horrible options.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. lastexorcist

      what aboiut ivah? sort of a prominent figure of the drow, and most of his history fits with the court description:
      “We tread the span of dusk and dawn, unhindered and unseen, watchers of boundaries and makers of secret ways. Let none think themselves our masters, for we are the children of the debt repaid and the tricks woven in death”
      first two senteces apply to all drows, the boundaries and secret ways was how he was using his fae title of Silent Steps, and the final part applies again to all drows, since cat sort of saved them from extinction and the death tricks… well, they are drows 😛

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Morgenstern

        I’d REALLY like that one. =)

        It’s true, we didn’t really get to *see* that he is toast, yet. It was just heavily implied he would *eventually* end up being toast by wielding the Night he wasn’t made for.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Argentorum

        He went the way of the Dodo a couple chapters ago, and with him all the Callowan ghosts in Liesse. Masago used up all of the other souls in his falling out with the Dead King, so there’s literally no one here but the Band, the Hunt, and the Drow.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. Morgenstern

        Why would Sve Noc want to get set in unchanging Fae ways? They chose Cat. Cat’s anything BUT that. Besides all the mortal crowns making it up, it should still be a Fae crown/Court that’s the end result from that artifact.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Cicero

    Obviously the Grey Pilgrim is the most worthy right? That’s what all the stories seem to suggest. And yet he’s the one that gave up his right to rule…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. KageLupus

      We know that Cat brought in her Drow reinforcements to handle the big battle she was expecting. And we can assume that she would want a mix of the Drow heavy hitters as well as the ones she knows are more personally loyal to herself.

      So clearly this is the lead up to Ivah being the new Twilight King. It has lived in the Dark, but also walked the Burning Lands and returned. It already has a Fae title and murdering your way from Lord to King lines up pretty well with Drow and Fae sensibilities.

      Ivah also seems especially aligned with the description of the Twilight Court that Larat gives. Who better to rule over a kingdom whose inhabitants walk unseen than the former Lord of Silent Steps?

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Morgenstern

      And it’s his star in the crown, it would seem. I admit, my first angst though was that Larat would use that star for the very same false dawn that the Pilgrim brought up not too long ago to defeat the drow. But this… this conundrum is much nicer. ^^

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jessica Day

        I went back and re-read it. I think you are probably right after seeing

        “He’d not put on the crown, I thought. It had not yet begun.”

        But I’m also thinking, she already set things up with a successor in order to abdicate if necessary. Even if she didn’t see this part happening she is still prepared with contingencies.

        Agh! I can’t wait for the next chapter!!!

        Liked by 4 people

  7. WuseMajor

    Presumably Larat has a treacherous and deceitful lieutenant who will be happy to take up this burden from him?

    And, if not, well, Cat prolly has a lesser Mighty that they could destroy instead?

    Or has Larat arranged things so the crown will just destroy anyone “unworthy?”

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Sylwoos

      Fea mantle is already something that not everybody can wear without destroying themselves.

      Saint, Cat, the Hunt and the mightiest Drow are the only one present I see that could wear it without destroying themselves. Maybe Tyrant too, if he Wish for it, but he should know better, consider the others already planed a deicide and wouldn’t be to sad to see him dead…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. JJR

    “Namely, to slay a god,” the Rogue Sorcerer said.

    That bought an aftermath of silence for a few beats. If he’d not been Proceran I would have assumed a pun, but given his origins my assumptions erred on the side of clemency.

    I’ve read anc re-read this part, but can’t figure it out. Where is this (maybe) accidental pun?

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Quite Possibly A Cat

    Possibilities
    Cat: That would give her triple, triple crowns. That’s got to be useful.
    Tyrant: I don’t think even Tyrant could claim to be the most worthy with a straight face.
    Hierarch: Clearly the most worthy to rule, although I’m pretty sure taking up a crown would kill him instantly due to irony overload.
    Hierophant: He made this realm so that’s a pretty good qualification.
    Archer: Umm… I got nothing.
    Rogue Sorcerer: An actually heroic hero! If we are measuring “worthy” by heroism he is the most worthy.
    Pilgrim: Would he get his “Right to Rule” back?
    Saint: I don’t think a Sword needs a crown. Maybe it would become a crown of swords or something? Then she could headbutt people?
    Sve Noc: She could probably say “frack it” and steal the crown for extra power.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. ______

      The reason Grey Pilgrim agreed to the idea in the first place is because Cat wanted to kill Larat instead of forming the Court of Night, since it would be sworn to Below. Sve Noc (and probably all the drow) are out of the running.

      Liked by 4 people

  10. antoninjohn

    Cat effected Winter when she had it with her will, those who used Winter’s power started acting like she would as seen in the battles of camps, so what has happened is that Larat has started following Cat’s story of Winter instead of the old Winter story thus has the traits of loyalty instead betrayal

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Komena and Andronike didn’t fuck shit up for the drow. They were trying to unfuck it.

        It was the Twilight Sages who fucked everything up for the drow. Komena and Andronike were trying to save the drow from extinction caused by the Twilight Sages, and only managed to partially salvage the situation in that they bought time and the drow didn’t go extinct in a handful of years. Sure, they wound up in a terrible situation, but it was an improvement on what was going to happen. After all, a cycle of perpetual murder is less permanent than extinction.

        Liked by 15 people

    1. Insanenoodlyguy

      No. “Mortal to the end, no matter what.” A vow made on her third death. You dont reverse that as easily as this even if you want to, which she doesnt.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. SilentWatcher

        Didnt we already discuss that Cats third death was not a “real” Death, because she couldnt have been resurected with Night, a Power of Below?
        And it would fit with Cats story:
        Becomming a Villain= sacrefice your Soul
        Win at first Liesse= losing morality ( where she ripped out the soul of that guy to blackmail the highlords)
        Win at three armies and one=sacrefice her troops instead of duelling that prince
        Win against Demon of Corruption= losing her Aspect, part of her Soul and a bad Leg
        Win against Akua= bearing the Mantle of Winter in full

        Every time Cat wins it at a cost of something and besides is there not this pseudo natural Law that Villains dont get a clean victory? It would fit that she must sacrefice something important to her to win. like her Mortality

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Insanenoodlyguy

          No, because she earnestly believes the cost isn’t worth it. Losing her morality means losing her most valuable weapon, her perspective, and anything she gains as fae isn’t worth it. It’s a major sacrifice for short term gain, and she knows better than to take that suckers bet now.

          Like

    1. Ya, she deserves this.
      The whole, preparing for his inevitable betrayal by putting him in a situation where he must betray me plan was grating to say the least. Larat has only ever been her ally, albeit one she would be a fool to trust completely.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. werafdsaew

        A shit ally that is. The minute Cat wasn’t around to direct them at the Battle of the Camps, they fucked off. And Vivienne was afraid of being stabbed. That’s not the signs of a good ally.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Ya. He wasn’t her friend, or her confidant.
          But he never did anything near as bad to her as her poisoning a deal made in good faith by gathering a Band of Five to murder him the second he got what he’s bargained for fairly.
          Dude gave her an army of demigods in return for that deal and she turned around and tried to kill him off.
          Its not like she ever even tried to get him on her side. From the begging she was super racist to him.
          Oh, hes just a faerie, not a real person at all. It’s OK to to cheat and murder faeries, they have no souls. No wonder Killian (Half Faerie) left her.
          Remember when she told Killian she’d bleed half of faerie for her whims and then turned around and said she was a monster for wanting to use the blood of a condemned human in a ritual?
          She basically justified treating Larat like an enemy without cause by saying he and every other Faerie was just an animal that couldn’t control themselves and therefore had to be put down preemptively..

          So ya, deserves this.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Sylwoos

        Then get first in line for being murdered? Larat threw a poisoned apple to the ground, any third party trying to claim it will get murdered by the band of five.

        Liked by 8 people

  11. ninegardens

    So…. I’m putting bets on the Lord of Silent steps, as being the most appropriate owner of the crown, and hence being the one to claim it.

    “Under the pilgrim’s star, willingly given, and winding through the many realms of mortals wicked and righteous both. We tread the span of dusk and dawn, unhindered and unseen, watchers of boundaries and makers of secret ways”

    Liked by 6 people

  12. My hope is that the Twilight Crown will eventually be used to create an independent party, bound by their nature to enforcing the Liesse Accords with extreme prejudice. Kind of like gnomes enforcing technological stagnancy but for Named involvement.

    Also, I don’t think anyone in the band apart from Cat can pick it up. Recall that becoming the Queen was a long process prepped by Winter King’s heart replacement. It took months of gradually increasing her power and seizing the mantle in full still killed her. I suspect that if anyone here put it on it would completely fuck them up.

    Liked by 8 people

  13. Valkyria

    Oh f*ck it all and damn it trice. I did not see this coming. Like not at all.
    You sly betraying weasel. This scene will become a Beat them up in like 3 seconds. The Wild Hunt most likely, but I don’t know if the drow will take a shot … Depends on how good the Sisters and Cat have a grip on them. Kairos most definitely in some way.
    But damn that is a good way to dodge certain death. Cat helped her treacherous LT see it coming, but still.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not directly.
      Masego is, after all, both in a Night-enforced sleep effect and no longer present.

      I could buy Cat or Indrani taking up the Twilight Crown and giving Masego a Title, though.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. She isn’t interested in it … but the alternative candidates would be worse.

          Tariq just gave up his Right to Rule, so he can’t take up the Twilight Crown.
          Kairos is so incredibly unacceptable it’s not even funny. Laurence start stabbing him now, please.
          Laurence is also decidedly unacceptable from Cat’s perspective. And while Cat is planning on/expecting the necessity/inevitability of killing Laurence … it is unlikely that Rogue Sorcerer or Tariq would assist at this point in time, which would leave Laurence as functionally impossible to kill and fundamentally opposed to a negotiated peace settlement like the Liesse Accords.

          Indrani doesn’t want the responsibilities that would come with taking up the Twilight Crown.

          Also, since the Twilight Court is brand new … and built as shades of grey, there aren’t any existing stories tethering its membership, and likely they have more freedom than the Summer/Winter Fae did. Especially since there doesn’t appear to be an opposing Court/opposition entity.

          At any rate, my point was that it would be more likely for Cat or Indrani to take up the Twilight Crown and use it to empower Masego than for Masego to take up the Twilight Crown himself. He’s no longer present, after all.

          Liked by 4 people

  14. shveiran

    A lot of people seem under the impression that Masego will get a “replacement” for his magic in the form of this or that power-up.

    I really, really think that’s not how he works.
    It kind of bothers me, honestly, to see it put this way.

    Cat is a character that is interested in having power. So long as she has the power to act upon the world, she is not particularly bothered by the shape of that power.
    Being the Squire, the Sovereign of Moonless Nights, or the First Under the Night is not a meaningful change for her CORE. Which isn’t to say that any of those changes didn’t have an impact on her, even a meaningful one, but simply that Cat’s identity is not rooted as a person in having one or the other.

    Masego doesn’t work like that.

    Masego is someone who has worked his whole life toward achieving perfect magical understanding of the world.
    It is his life work, his one interest, his passion, his soul.
    By losing the Gift, he didn’t lose the ability to blast fools; he lost the ability to exercise his life achievements and exercise his only true passion. Without sorcery, he doesn’t understand HIgh Arcana, since only the greatest sorcerers can get that, so even his own previous achievements were taken from him.
    He doesn’t need POWER. He doesn’t WANT power. He wants to be fixed. He wants his MAGIC back, for which there isn’t – there can’t be – a substitute.

    If you spend your life studying medicine because you want to be a medic, you give up everything else in the pursuit of that goal, and when you lose the ability to be a doctor you just happen to inherit an hefty sum, you don’t go “well, I’ll still get a good income, so all is good”.
    No, you are still broken, because being a medic, for you, was the core of your identity and you still lost that.

    A kickass girfriend doesn’t change that, either.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Morgenstern

      I second that.

      And yet.. if Fae are not made of Magic entirely – then what is? TBH, I don’t believe / feel Masego *will* get that crown. But it would seem to be a perfect insta-get-your-magic-back-and-even-truly-perfect-it recipe. Barring being susceptible to wards, I guess.

      On the other hand, his life’s achievement(s) did seem to point in the direction of apotheosis, lately, not just magic in and of itself. Remember all that stuff about not flinching given the opportunity?

      He’s knocked out, though, and I cannot see Cat or Indrani or anyone else truly wanting to give him that kind of state of being… however much he might have actually liked it after all.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. > If you spend your life studying medicine because you want to be a medic, … and when you lose the ability to be a doctor

      … you become Doctor Strange? 😉 Seriously, Cat has been demonstrating for a while that power is more mutable than most people think. We also have an assortment of powers and personages available, plus some of Masego’s prior work (Observatory etc). Masego is not going to be reduced permanently to Woe Is Me My Magic Is Gone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. shveiran

        Likewise, I don’t think he will remain a cripple. And like Morgenstern said above, it is true the shape was veering toward Apotheosys.

        My beef is merely the definition of the crippling to solve.

        As in, I disagree the issue is “Masego lost his magic and is therefore powerless”; if that was the case, a Fae Title could be a solution, like a Night infusion or some other stuff.

        I believe the wound is, instead, “Masego lost his magic and is therefore deprived of what he ever thought gave his life meaning”; if that is the adopted criteria, only restoring his magic – one that works like sorcery does – can fix it.

        I believe a way will become apparent sooner or later, but I stand by the claim that only restoring his sorcery can fix him.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Right, it’s not just about being “powerless” in general, but also about his personal relationship to sorcery and his access to the world through the same.

          Storywise I’m still betting that he’s basically “injured” rather than “crippled”, but it still will take a while to recover.

          I have my own personal connections to this particular storyline; while I don’t want to open my guts too far here, suffice to say that I used to be a computer programmer.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. SilentWatcher

          Yes you have vallid Points, but did Masego not have that revelation that everything is build of Miracles in Creation when he became the Hierophant? Usurpation is the Essence of Sorcery so is not using Night, a Power of Miracles and Usurpation incarnate not a good Replacement?

          Liked by 1 person

  15. green

    everybody discussing who’s going to “take the crown” seems to be missing something–the whole point of this exercise is to raise, and then *kill*, a god. it’s not just a matter of “oh Catherine will have to deal with being a fae-construct again,” or “can we trust Kairos/Saint/random Hunt person/whoever with the power”–whoever ends up with that hat on their head *needs* to be dead before the sun rises and the shard they’re in falls. even if the Pilgrim still had a rez on him, Cat couldn’t trust him to rez her–and more importantly, I get the feeling that “killing a god and using the power to set rules on the realm” is going to require a permanent sacrifice, the kind of thing that can’t be rezzed by the Pilgrim, Sve Noc, or any other force. I could be wrong about that, but I really think whoever ends up with the crown is going to end up permadead. and while it’d be lovely to cast Kairos in that role, whoever wears the crown will (apparently) also have the power to shape the shard-realm before they’re dead–and not only can Kairos not be trusted to let himself be sacrificed when the time comes, he can’t be trusted to form the realm without making it some kind of horrible unusable hellscape, or immediately using it to try and kill everybody else.

    so if I had my choice, I’d pick the Saint–although how she’d shape the realm, I shudder to think. (infinite plane of swords, anyone?) some redshirt from the Hunt is possible, but seems unlikely–
    EE hasn’t played that game before and it would be unsatisfying to play it now. bouncing it back to Larat somehow miiiiight be workable, but I suspect that him renouncing it means now he *can’t* take it. of the other choices, I strongly suspect the Rogue Sorcerer is going to end up on the altar. Pilgrim might try to take it because noble self-sacrifice, but again, since he abdicated his own rule to make the crown I don’t think he *can*. along with not wanting Archer to take it and die, I think she’d give them the same problem the Saint would–she’d make the realm, um, ~difficult~ to deal with.

    oh! or… eeeehehehehehehehehhhhh haahahahahahahhah yeah that would work, wouldn’t it? OH MY. well we’ll see! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Morgenstern

      I’m not entirely surely “killing” was necessary beyond the point that Larat was not trustworthy. If you had someone in charge of that realm that *worked* with you / what you wanted, that might be enough. They’d be forever bound there or some such nonsense, but thinking of the moniker for this Court, that doesn’t mean much, as they could still go anywhere they’d like while being technically bound to that realm.

      If I remember correctly the whole “realm falling down on Creation” was because of its instability. And that would become stable when a Court aka new realm was formed out of the free-floating shard.

      Not only after killing the god of that new realm and making the realm into something different. That seems to me to have been wholly linked to everyone disliking the idea that only Larat can form the realm by becoming its King because of the oath Cat gave him being the singular thing that can form that Crown and thus stabilize this shard into an actual realm. Killing was only because no one wanted Larat to stay the proprietor of this realm – wasn’t it?

      Liked by 6 people

      1. shveiran

        Agreed. I believe the plan has always been to claim Larat’s crown, if after killing him, to make it possible to use Arcadia to move the armies north.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. nipi

      Pretty sure Pilgrim cant take the Crown as he just gave up his right to rule. And if he did it would be disastrous.

      How much do they need the shortcut anyway? Cat just got them 3 months to march to the front.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. shveiran

        They do need it less than before, but it would still be a huge help. Arcadia diminishes travel time, it doesn’t teleport: three months with an army of that size may very well not be enough to get them into position through the principate.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Kel the Seer

    Nice mimicry Larat. When the game is stacked against you, change the game.
    I vote for Kairos to betray them again, pulling out an artifact to summon his pet.. er.. leader to take the crown and destroy it as being “a symbol of oppressive regimes which place a yoke upon the common born.”
    I mean, can you imagine the look on everyone else’s faces?

    Liked by 4 people

  17. I noted this above, but I’m going to say it again. Everybody’s talking about the heroes, and the villains, and the Wild Hunt. But.

    Larat just said “let the worthiest take this power”. In the middle of the army of Mighty that Cat brought to kill him. The worthy take, the worthy rise. If I could put money down on this I would – the Mighty are going to start trying for the crown. That’s what makes Larat’s gambit extra spicy; Cat brought that army of Mighty to kill him, but how will they do that when they’re so busy killing each other to claim the highest power? He isn’t just slipping the noose, he just sowed an insane amount of chaos (e.g., like Kairos won’t try for it and do his level best to make everything worse once shit starts exploding) among everybody around him.

    Best part? It didn’t read to me like he forsook his *right* to rule, just the crown itself. I.e., if none of *you* prove to be the worthiest as he said in the initial statement, doesn’t that potentially open the door for him to pick that back up himself once chaos has made the situation more survivable?

    The only way I can see this doesn’t turn into a complete shitshow with the Mighty is if Sve Noc themselves intervene to keep them in line; they do already have eyes-on and Cat as F.U.N. sure as fuck doesn’t want things going sideways in that way, but would the Mighty trying for the crown themselves actually be incompatible with the Night’s philosophy? As I understand, gods are in a sense a bit like fae in that they are bound by their own natures. Sve Noc might be bound or at least inclined to let this play out.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. shveiran

      You are among several commenters to support that possibility, and you may be right.

      Personally, I think it is very unlikely the Mighty would go against the wishes of the First Under the Night when she has never lost the EXPLICIT, HANDS ON support of their Goddesses. And is also both capable and willing to smoke a fool that tries.
      I mean, even after claiming the twilight court, that title is new. Komena and Andronike had a millenium of alughter backing them even before they ate the much older Winter, so it really doesn’t sound like a Twilight King could be a contendant if the Crows take an interest.

      But even if I was wrong, and the Mighty would salivate at the prospect… do they KNOW what the title is and means? This is a very Fey power.
      Before Cat went to the Underdark, fey and drows never brushed shoulders, and it’s not like she taught them enough to understad what’s going on here.

      Maybe Ivar? He seemed very in tune with his title, but still, I don’t see him going against Cat’s wishes this suddenly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. > Before Cat went to the Underdark, fey and drows never brushed shoulders, and it’s not like she taught them enough to understad what’s going on here.

        I wouldn’t say “never”. Ivah said while down in the Everdark, semi-unprompted (Archer was bragging about taking on fae royalty, because Archer), that it had been told/had learned that the mightiest among the Splendid (AKA the fae) were like unto gods. So the common run of drow might not know enough to realize how much power was just put into play, but it’s not the common run that’s here right now. Ivah wasn’t even a sigil-holder at any point, so it should be reasonable to conclude that any decently-ranked Mighty has at least a pretty solid chance of knowing enough to have a decent idea of how much power is up for grabs. And if the description they have of that power is “godlike” they might conclude that it’s worth braving Sve Noc, even if they might have to scamper off afterwards.

        But yeah, it will ultimately come down to intimidation vs. greed. How that will play out, well, we’ll just have to wait and see. If even a minority percentage of the Mighty try for it, that will be enough to spark a lot of chaos.

        Liked by 2 people

  18. Daniel E

    Can someone please point me to the chapter where we get an excerpt of Juniper’s memoir mentioning Prince’s Graveyard? As others have mentioned, The Lord of Silent Steps seems like a logical choice here. My biggest curiosity now is if Pilgrim will put down The Saint for the greater good, when the latter tries to stop whoever claims the Crown.

    Liked by 1 person

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